It is funny that this comes up from time to time. Essentially, this was my first question for the SDMB some years ago. I titled the thread "Was Venus the original ‘Girl Friday?.’
“Why have most western languages adopted the Astronomical names for Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Saturn, Sun and Moon respectively) and yet chose different origins for the remaining days?
Also, if anyone can shed light on the other origins in cultures that were isolated from Latin and Saxon influence, I would be greatly interested.” --Me
In my research around the web, I was able to piece together the following table (with the origins at the end of each line).
Saturn Sun Moon Mars Mercury Jupiter Venus -Astro.
Saturni Solis Lunae Martis Mercurii Jovis Veneris -Latin
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday -English
Saterne’s Sun’s Moon’s Tiw’s Woden’s Thor’ Frigg’s -Saxon
Samedi Dimanche Lundi Mardi Mercredi Jeudi Vendredi -French
Sabado Domingo Segunda Terca Quarta Quinta Sexta -Portugese
Sabado Domingo Lunes Martes Miercoles Jueves Viernes -Spanish
From the chart, you can see that the Latin, French and Spanish followed the Astronomical format, while the English and Saxon followed a hybrid of Astro/Mythological. I find it particularly interesting that the Portugese carried the Astrological for the weekend and then simply started numbering the days.
Here is some background into the way in which the order developed. Rather than chart the whole thing in this posting, I will leave it to those who are interested to try it at home.
First, the order of the planets came from the duration of their Orbit, as viewed from Earth. In descending order, this gives us Saturn = 10,761 days, Jupiter = 4,332 days, Mars = 687 days, Sun = 365 days, Venus = 224 days, Mercury = 88 days, Moon = 29 days.
With this order, each of the hours in each of seven days is given a planet. Start at 1:00am Saturday with Saturn, 2:00am with Jupiter and so on. When you get to Midnight with Mars, the Sun is carried over to 1:00am Sunday. This continues until you have the days filled in, with 1:00am each day representing the name of the day as the Romans would have called them.
My conclusion (admittedly far from truly satisfying) was that the Saxon’s had attached meaning to Saturn, the Sun and the Moon, but felt that Tiw, Woden, Thor and Frigg were more significant (to them) than the remaining ‘wanderers.’
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